(WYTV) – During this holiday season, you’ll find holly on houses all over the world. The prickly green plant and its red berries are a popular ornament — but why?
Holly comes from an ancient word meaning prickly, and the Druids hung it on windows and doorways to keep evil witches and spirits away.
Holly remains green and strong, its berries a brightly-colored red, through the winter.
Throughout history, holly has been associated with men, bringing men good luck.
The female counterpart to holly is ivy, as in a famous English Christmas carol, “The Holly and the Ivy.”
It’s said that if the holly used to decorate a home for Christmas is really prickly, the man will rule the house for the coming year. If the holly used is smooth, the woman will rule.
The ancient peoples thought they could hang holly to protect their homes from lightning strikes.
Christians adopted the holly tradition from Druid, Celtic and Roman traditions, and its symbolism changed to reflect Christian beliefs.
The berries are toxic, but people have been using the green leaves for herbal remedies for centuries. They’re good for curing dizziness and fever.
Finally, there is a Holly Society of America, urging you to grow it year-round and where to find the best.